Counting calories vs counting macros
The differences might be obvious to some but maybe not to others which is why I am sending out some gentle reminders.
Calories counting is just what it says it is, counting calories. But could you be missing important nutrients you need each day just by doing just this? It’s possible.
Macros still have your calories figured in them but then the calories are divided into grams between protein, carbs and fats. These macronutrients are little but they pack a (good) punch for our body. Counting macros can be a way to make sure you get enough of these to fuel your workouts, build muscle (if that is your goal) and provide you energy for all the activities in your daily life. Let's say you consume 2000 calories a day. You could eat 2000 calories of food that has little to no nutritional value or be eating too many calories from carbs, or fats and not getting enough protein daily or vise versa. If you track macros you could be more inclined to eat foods that hold more nutrients in them because you are trying to meet your protein, carb and healthier fat requirements. Let's move on to talk and learn a little more about how protein, carbs and fats work in the body.
First up, carbohydrates. Carbohydrates(and sugars that come in all forms!) contain 4 calories per gram. So 10 grams of carbs equals 40 calories. Did you know your brain likes to fuels itself on glucose? Glucose is mainly supplied to our body by carbohydrates. Carbohydrates go through a process that converts them to glycogen and then is released in our body as glucose but we won’t dive into that any further. If you are on a very low carb diet regime your brain will fuel itself via Ketones which are made by the liver. It is estimated that your brain likes to use about 100grams of carbohydrates or more a day to fuel itself. Whoa!!
Carbs play a very important role in our daily bodily functions but can be very controversial right now in diet culture. If you like carbs, eat them! If they don’t do great things for your body, you do not have to eat them. Simple as that.
Next up, proteins. Like carbs, proteins also have 4 calories per gram. Proteins are made of Amino Acids. Our body cannot store amino acids like it can fats and carbs. This is why we need an adequate amount of protein each day. Most adults need at least 50 grams of protein a day if they are sedentary and the more active you are the more you need, anywhere from 90 grams up to 150 grams or more! Protein is the macronutrient of satiety (suh-tai-uh-tee) because it takes more energy (calories) and time from our bodies to break it down.
Last up are fats. Fats have 9 calories per gram. So 10 grams of fat equals 90 calories, so they are considered calorie dense. Fats play an important role in hormone function and it is not recommended unless for specific reasons by a doctor that you go below 30grams of fat a day. This includes healthy fats, regular fats and saturated fats all in one category. Fat also keeps our organs insulated and stored fat can provide us energy when we aren’t taking in enough nutrients.
Now that you know a little more about these macronutrients I want you all to remember the only way to gain weight is to be in a calorie surplus each day for many weeks, months or years. And the only way to lose weight is to be in a calorie deficit for weeks, months or years! No-matter-what-anyone tells you. That is scientifically proven. Although, being in too much of a calorie deficit like, at your BMR or below, you might lose weight at first but it will eventually taper off because your body is smart. When you take in too few calories, your body will conserve all that energy and weight loss will cease. Any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will get back to you.
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